From Climate Change to Sports and Entertainment, Executive MBAs Tackle 19 ExecMAP Projects With a Diverse Range of Global Companies
Right now, Executive MBA students at the Ross School of Business are finalizing their strategic recommendations as part of their ExecMAP projects, which have allowed them to immerse themselves in complex business challenges for companies around the world.
The ExecMAP course is a unique feature of the Michigan Ross Executive MBA curriculum and one of the highlights of the student experience.
There are 19 ExecMAP projects being conducted by EMBA students this semester, with a diverse mix of sponsoring organizations. Students are tackling projects related to a variety of topics, including biosciences, tourism, sport, and food and beverage. The projects will conclude with final presentations of the strategic recommendations to the sponsoring companies’ leadership teams in early December.
Below, hear from one of the 19 EMBA teams about their ExecMAP project and how this experience has enhanced their Michigan Ross education.
The ExecMAP Experience
PK Coleman; Jared Herschberger, MBA ’22; Therese Komar, MBA ’22; and Peter Pacult, MBA ’22, are working on a project sponsored by Carbon Group Solutions, an international agro-climatic consulting firm. Their project focuses on efforts to incentivize farmers to adopt practices that sequester carbon in soil and increase regenerative agriculture.
While lowering global carbon emissions can seem like a daunting task, the students expressed how undertaking this ExecMAP project has provided insights into the work being done by businesses on climate change. The students were able to gain an insider perspective after speaking directly to farmers and experts in the agricultural industry, including scientists, food manufacturers, and others in the food value chain.
“The internet has endless articles and studies on sustainable agriculture, but to truly understand how it works in practice, you need to talk with the people on the front lines,” explained Herschberger.
Talking with the various stakeholders also provided motivation to the EMBA team on their challenging project.
“The issue of global emissions and climate change is huge, but it has been inspiring to meet so many people who are committed to collaborating and innovating in order to dream up, test, and implement effective solutions,” said Komar.
Collaborating as a team and support from the Michigan Ross community
All the students said they thoroughly appreciated the strong collaboration within their group and the support of Michigan Ross.
“We have an amazing support group of advisors and librarians who are going above and beyond to help us succeed,” said Coleman. “Between the collective group, we're constantly sharing ideas and our librarian always provides us with the latest information on relevant topics and data points. I'm very fortunate to be in a group of people who are so passionate about climate change, and it has been truly an honor learning from them and sharing ideas from our research.”
Pacult was similarly impressed by the work Michigan Ross has done to bring people together who are both hard-working and collaborative.
“Starting this program during COVID was bound to be challenging,” he said. “But those challenges have strengthened the relationships at every level, from my peers to the professors, executive coaches, and program administrators. I’m continuously impressed and humbled by the work everyone does; it’s been an honor.”
Similarly, Herschberger recognized how teamwork, collaboration, reliability, and trust are vital to their success as a team, along with in any organization. “I rely on my team and they are relying on me,” he said. “We are a team working toward a common goal and we all bring unique backgrounds and perspectives.”
Stepping out of your comfort zone through ExecMAP
While it can be nerve wracking to depart from their established careers, the EMBAs shared that stepping outside of their comfort zone to make an impact elsewhere has proven to be extremely valuable.
Pacult, who's currently the CEO of a life sciences company focused on women’s health, said he debated choosing a project that more closely aligned to his current work.
“I chose a project and industry I was less familiar with and I’m very happy for doing so. It’s not common, especially later in one’s career, where you can work in a totally different industry using new skills,” said Pacult. “ExecMAP presents that opportunity. I can’t say this is the right approach for everyone, but I would recommend future EMBAs consider stepping outside their comfort zone.”
Coleman, who works in sports finance, said he had always been interested in learning more about what's contributing to climate change, but never knew where to start.
“I chose this project because it allowed me to do something different from my current career,” he said. “Not only is this allowing me to practice what I've learned at Michigan Ross thus far, but it's given me an opportunity to get involved with something truly important to all organisms.”
Transferable skills from ExecMAP to their careers
The team said that even though their project did not directly align with their career paths, they gained many valuable skills from the experience and found it incredibly rewarding.
“The ExecMAP piece of the overall EMBA program is where you put your skills to the test. Our EMBA courses have really changed the way I think about and approach projects from a branding, financial, and stakeholder engagement perspective,” said Komar. “It has helped me to realize my passion for combating climate change, but also reiterated the importance of absorbing as much information as possible about a particular issue as opposed to running towards a solution.”
They also felt that the experience helped them enhance their active listening and critical thinking skills, and are planning to take these lessons with them for the future.
“The interviews have introduced a deeper level of empathy for each party involved and certainly reinforced the importance of listening carefully and not rushing to conclusions,” said Pacult. “Honing that skill is highly transferable to business leadership.”
Overall, the students are thankful for their experience and the skills they have taken away from their ExecMAP project.
List of this year’s ExecMAP projects
Create a comprehensive merger and acquisition evaluation template for California-based Beyond Limits, an artificial intelligence engineering company.
Carbon Group Solutions LLC
Provide a three-year strategic marketing plan and branding strategy for the Switzerland-based Carbon Group, a global consulting firm focused on climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies.
Develop a long-term inbound-outbound marketing strategy for DeepHow, a U.S.-based high-growth SaaS startup that provides the world’s first AI solution, Stephanie, for skilled trades know-how capturing, digitizing, training, and management.
Put together a detailed industrial profile for a dozen key industrial market segments for Everactive, which delivers a scalable and cost-effective digital transformation solution, and has offices in Silicon Valley, Ann Arbor, and Charlottesville.
Invest Puerto Rico
Provide a mapping strategy for the pharmaceutical and bioscience industry supply chain in Puerto Rico for Invest Puerto Rico, a nonprofit that uses a competitive investment jurisdiction to attract new business and capital investment to the island.
Develop a marketing and growth plan to improve the efficiency of the operation to meet future expansion goals for JohnTom's Barbecue, a small Indiana-based barbecue sauce company.
Keurig Dr. Pepper
Develop a strategic roadmap of products and services for expanding Dr. Pepper into new environments for Massachusetts-based Keurig Dr. Pepper Inc., a beverage and beverage-maker conglomerate that sells coffee, sodas, juices, and other beverages.
McNay Art Museum
Create a marketing strategy and plan that targets tourists visiting the San Antonio area for the McNay Art Museum, the first modern art museum in Texas.
Formulate a strategic plan to enter the premium chocolate space for Mondelez International, one of the world’s largest snack companies
Oak View Group
Strategize how to maximize marketing value for brands in music across venues, promoters, labels, and artists for California-based Oak View Group, the largest sports and entertainment venue developer in the world.
Complete a comprehensive marketing plan and financial analysis for Opus IVS, the intelligent vehicle support division of the Opus Group, which develops innovative service solutions for more than 50,000 repair shops and dealerships worldwide.
Formulate a three-year go-to-market plan for California-based TetraMem, artificial intelligence solutions provider.
The 4100 Group Inc.
Provide strategic planning to define a differentiated value proposition for the 4100 Group, the private market investment arm of Lansing, Michigan-based Delta Dental that focuses investment verticals on healthcare/life science and financial services.
The Detroit Pistons
Formulate a strategy and special ticket offers to target the next generation of basketball fans for the NBA’s Detroit Pistons.
The Underdog Family
Convert a small business technical accelerator initiative in Denver to a replicable strategy that can be utilized on a national level for Colorado-based Underdog Family, a nonprofit that works with locally owned small businesses to build out a cost-free digital storefront, capture professional photography, integrate social media, and launch marketing initiatives
TopDog Golfer Limited
Create a U.S. market entry strategy for TopDog Golfer, an Irish software company that specializes in technology-based solutions for golfers.
Engage in research, data gathering, and analysis to guide partnership opportunities and formulate a competitive framework to quickly assess adjacent organizations within the palliative care space for California-based Vynca Health, a venture-backed healthcare technology and services organization.
Create a U.S. market assessment and entry plan for WeMaintain, a portfolio company of the Red River West investment fund, in the real estate space.
Develop a growth strategy plan to maximize shareholder value and assess future growth for Ann Arbor-based Xoran Technologies, a provider of innovative point of care medical and veterinary imaging solutions.